Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Knot Untied

Not too long ago, the story of how Alex and I weren't legally married for almost a month after our wedding, came up in a phone conversation with Kara.  I also received a request to expand this story when I mentioned in my last post.  If we're going to be completely honest here, I may or may not have exaggerated just a teensy-weensie bit about the legality of said marriage, but why don't I just let you decide for yourself?

To really explain, I have to take it back to the beginning when we first explored our options for selecting a church and going through the Marriage Prep process.  We explored the option of being married at a church near my home, but not the one I'd grown up in.  Not having received any of my sacraments there, I really wasn't sure whether they would welcome us and what hoops we might have to jump through, especially since Alex isn't Catholic.  When I made my first phone contact with the priest, I used a list of questions I'd prepared, and took diligent notes throughout the conversation.  Jokingly, he snuffed me off as being very "conscientious."  I said I just wanted to cover all my bases, and be sure there were no surprises.

Throughout our Marriage Prep process (which was mostly done online through outside programs, I might add), Fr. M, as I'll call him, was very laid back.  He never seemed concerned with schedules, dates, deadlines, etc.  In fact, sometimes he even forgot our names or the date we'd chosen to be married.  There's nothin' like sending a bride over the edge when mentioning the slightest notion of there being another wedding on the same day as hers...seriously.  But, I digress.  

So fast forward to the impending wedding date, say 9 days before the big day...Alex and I went to get our marriage license from the Ouachita Parish Courthouse in Monroe.  (While the wedding was to be held in Lafayette, the 30 days-72 hour window was narrowing and we didn't foresee another opportunity to be in the same town together on a business day, especially with the Christmas holidays approaching.)  When we received the license, we joked about how Fr. M is so laid back that he'd forget to send in the paperwork or something.  In fact, we'd even come across an article online about a couple who was "married" for 50 years and found out due to paperwork issues, it had never become official.  Surely that wouldn't happen to us...right...?

If you know anything about being married in a Catholic church (or maybe any church, I dunno), you know the priest fills in the information after all the signatures are there and makes a copy for church records before send it off to the courthouse/whatever proper government office.  When we returned from our honeymoon, we again joked about how the papers probably never made it to the office and it's likely we were "living in sin" at that point.  Yeah...joking.  Not so fast, people.

About a week after we got back, Alex received a phone call from the Lafayette Parish Courthouse saying our marriage license had been received.  Problem?  Problem.  It was Ouachita Parish where the license was filed, meaning it needed to be returned to Monroe, not Lafayette.  Thankfully, the nice folks in Lafayette agreed to forward it on to Ouachita for us.  Easy enough, right?  Nope.

Once Ouachita Parish received the forms, Alex received yet another call.  Not all of the forms were included.  A document was missing from the stack of papers.  Go figure.  I contacted the church (which in itself was an act of congress between the secretary and the priest) several times to have the missing document sent.  Finally, we thought we were done.  Again, close but no cigar.

Nearly a month after this whole ordeal (aka: our marriage) began, Ouachita Parish called Alex yet again.  All the forms had been received, but key information was missing - the date, time, and location of the wedding.  What the...?  By now, I think the employees there had begun to recognize us and decided it was probably just easier if Alex went in and completed the information himself.  No more sending papers back and forth, no more phone tag, and finally, an officially legal marriage.  

There you have it.  Exaggeration?  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, it was an ordeal I'd rather have not dealt with, but just over 8 months later, we are legally and spiritually (which was most important from the beginning, anyway) married...forever. 

We hope and pray none of you sympathize with this experience.  :)

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